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Map App

Maps.me

I use Maps.me locally, on road trips, & on outdoor adventures because it:

  • Includes detailed network of trails
  • Works off-line without need for mobile phone signal or internet connection
  • Navigates to a point destination using multiple modes of transport
  • Supports user content for custom points of interest & routes
  • Displays easy to use screen that moves very fast

Install

Here are instructions to download maps for offline use without mobile signal. Prepare these steps ahead of the trip when you have internet connection.

  • Install MAPS.ME app on your mobile device
  • Open the app
  • Open menu options from the three horizontal bars at the bottom right corner
  • Select Download Maps
  • In the subsequent menus, navigate to find the country & region to download maps for
  • Return from the app to this web page to add markers

Points of Interest

Quick links to download points of interest from various maps. Select the title of each map to view more details about it:

Ride with GPS

To download a route from Ride with GPS:

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Tuscany Food & Wine

Trip Report: 17–24 September 2017

I had just finished bicycle Route des Grandes Alpes & hike a parallel GR5 trail from Lac Léman to the Mediterranean sea.

It was time for Tuscany tour: hills, farms, thermal bath, food, & wine.

This was about to be a relaxing tour. Bicycling was a bonus between wine stops.

РЖД

I decided on an overnight train leaving Menton at 22:57 on Saturday 16 September 2017 to arrive Verona at 6:07 on Sunday. From there, I would transfer onto local trains to meet the group with Appalachian Mountain Club, Adventure Travel.

Mystery surrounded this train from the beginning. No reservation agent seemed familiar with it or able to book a ticket on it. Web site returned an error. In person at Menton train station, the agent called her manager for help.

This was a Russian RZD train between Nice & Moscow.

Despite the mysteries & difficulties, I had a first rate experience. It departed & arrived promptly on schedule. Private sleeping room was comfortable & clean. I slept very well that night.

I was off to a good start.

Hills

My friend Mike defines challenging bicycle routes as those that climb 100 feet per 1 mile (roughly 20m/km). We often search in New England for such routes with little success if at all. Even the LAMB gaps were at 17m/km.

This was not a problem in Tuscany. It seemed that whenever we mapped a route, we could count on exceeding this threshold.

And so it was how the trip started. We offered a base loop. For some of us who wanted more, we added distance & elevation for a total distance of 58.69km & ascent of 1,248m, or 21.26m/km.

These climbs would have been easier with better bakery choices. But there was no such treat in Tuscany. Meager bakery, bread, & pastry choice:

Never mind. Drink wine instead. Or eat dried fig & nuts cake:


Location: 43.0769°N, 11.6781°E

Bagno Vignoni

Water + bicycle. Olive + bread. Chocolate + meüsli.

It only gets better with hot thermal water:

Forecast was for rain that morning. We started early with a climb to Castello di Ripa d’Orcia. The final stretch of that climb was at grades near 25% or steeper. We tour the castle & town for an extended time. We stopped at Coop market for deli lunch, cheese, yogurt, & chocolate just before it closed at 13:00.

Sky started to clear as we descended to Bagno Vignoni. It seemed popular with tourists: large buses, busy restaurants, & multiple hotels.

Some in our groups chose to walk by a thermal river to dip their tired legs. The remaining lucky ones paid 20€ for full dip in thermal pools of Posta Marcucci.

Only when our skin was red & completely wrinkled, we lazily put our bicycle clothes back on to ride back to Pienza.

Pizza

We spent most of the day at Podere il Casale farm for tour, cheese, & baking.

In a large bowl, added 2 cups of warm water, tea spoon yeast, table spoon olive oil, & table spoon honey. Mixed well until foamy. Added white flour slowly while mixing until slightly sticky.

Moved the mix onto table surface to knead by hand adding more flour slowly. Until the dough was the consistency & feel of marshmallow.

Rolled 250g in a ball, covered in wet towel, put in fridge for 1 hour. Dipped the ball in flour, flattened, shook flour off, flattened out all the way.

Looked for fig to use on pizza:


Location: 43.080791°N, 11.711741°E

It was post season, so was able to find only two suitable to eat. All others were rotten.

Added pizza toppings: tomato sauce, feta cheese, arugula, & fig. Baked in wood burning oven.

Olive

Blue Mountain trail running race was on my mind, coming up in 10 days on 1 October 2017.

Still dark, I put a headlight on to start running at 6:00. Sunrise was at 6:59, which I wanted to view from Monticchiello. Many parts were on trail network of Rete Escursionistica Toscana:

We transferred to Montalcino for the remainder of our trip. Plenty of olive trees along the way:

None of them were for eating though. Apparently, these are for cold press olive oil. Olive to eat comes from southern Italy.

Wine

Eroica, bicycle museum, pomegranate, & plenty of wine at Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona:

We started with a short climb to Passo del Lume Sperto at 621m before a long beautiful descent. Turned left to get on a gravel “white” road lined with vineyards.

Pomegranate tree with was stranded on the side of the road, so we helped with a couple of ripe fruits. Then we discovered even more pomegranate when we arrived at Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona winery.

We had a private tour there of vineyard, cellars, bicycle museum, & wines. The owner is a big bicycle fan, displays vintage bicycles in the museum, manages a club, & races in Eroica. Some in our group purchased jerseys & club membership.

Gelato

Why Not? was the gelato of choice in Montalcino: mix of pistachio, hazelnut, & intense dark chocolate:

The morning descent from Montalcino was frightening: heavy fog, no visibility, fast road, no shoulders, & cold hands. Bad combination. That stretched for a while until we reached Buoncovento.

Turned right to climb to Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggoire: old abbey with chants, murals, & restaurant nearby. A Jaguar car show was on the grounds. After admiring them, we toured the abbey, ate lunch, & continued our bicycle tour through San Giovanni d’Asso back to Montalcino.

Time for more gelato.

Fly Swiss

Taking a taxi for three hours to Fiumicino “Leonardo da Vinci” International Airport in Rome was a mistake: small space, dizzying small roads, & aggressive driver. Train would have been a better choice.

Miraculously, arrived safely to airport, checked in, shopped for limoncello, & boarded my flight back to Boston.

Connection in Zürich was too short to shop for chocolate. But the flight had sufficient supplies:

Itinerary

Day Places Log
Sunday 17 September 2017 Train to Chiusi. Taxi to Pienza. Check in Relais il Chiostro di Pienza. Rent bicycles for the group.
Monday 18 September 2017 9:28 Bakery & café in Trequanda
Coop small market in San Giovanni d’Asso
Map from Garmin & Strava: download GPX, FIT, TCX, KML, & other file format for GPS track
Earth view of route
➡️ Distance 58.69km
⏩ Speed 10.3km/h
🔄 Duration 5h:43m:12s
⬆️ Ascent 1,248m
⬇️ Descent 1,237m
*️⃣ Calories 2,269
📶 Temperature 21.3ºC
Tuesday 9:51 Coop market in Castiglione d’Orcia Garmin & Strava
Earth view
➡️ 38.2km
⏩ 5.4km/h
🔄 7:04:17
⬆️ 706m
⬇️ 706m
*️⃣ 1,394
📶 17.1ºC
Wednesday 8:32 Handmade pizza at Podere il Casale farm Garmin & Strava
Earth view
➡️ 32.43km
⏩ 3.9km/h
🔄 8:14:49
⬆️ 732m
⬇️ 752m
*️⃣ 1,265
📶 14.4ºC
Thursday 10:01 Coop market in Castiglione d’Orcia
Change hotel to Residenza Palazzo Saloni
Garmin & Strava
Earth view
➡️ 43.13km
⏩ 10.9km/h
🔄 3:57:57
⬆️ 855m
⬇️ 813m
*️⃣ 1,628
📶 21.1ºC
Friday 11:15 Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona winery Garmin & Strava
Earth view
➡️ 27.28km
⏩ 4.5km/h
🔄 5:59:58
⬆️ 509m
⬇️ 474m
*️⃣ 934
📶 22.0ºC
Saturday 9:03 Restaurant near Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggoire Garmin & Strava
Earth view
➡️ 49.78km
⏩ 8.4km/h
🔄 5:55:30
⬆️ 755m
⬇️ 747m
*️⃣ 1,748
📶 18.9ºC
Total
➡️ 249.5km
⏩ 6.76km/h
🔄 1d:12h:55m:43s
⬆️ 4,805m
⬇️ 4,729m
*️⃣ 9,238
📶 18.7ºC

Tips

Consider the following when planning a trip to the region:

  • Gravel or no gravel. “White roads” are a better choice: huge network of them, light traffic, more scenic between orchards, & more variety of loop options.

    Schedule the trip around one of l’Eroica races to participate in it, or just cheer.

    Paved roads are somewhat busy. Drivers are considerate & aware of bicycles. You still get noise & fume pollution.

  • Carefully plan route distance. Elevation accumulates very fast, much more than in New England, closer to the huge Alpine passes.
  • Bakeries are dull at best. You will just have to drink plenty of wine instead.

GR5 part II: Larche–Menton

Trip Report: 1–16 September 2017

New Alps: rocky, steep, wild, & remote.

The Alps I knew were green pastures, bells ringing on cows’ necks, farm houses on gentle slops, & glacial water fountains to quench thirst even when not thirsty. That was the case during our hike last year on part I of the trip.

Not in the Parc national du Mercantour.

Nice

I had just finished bicycle Route des Grandes Alpes in Menton on Thursday 31 August 2017.

Friday was a day along the beach from Menton to Monte Carlo & then Nice.

On Saturday, the group assembled in Villa Saint Exupery early afternoon for a walk to Castle Rock, swim, & bakery stop.

Sunday was full with luggage transfer to our hotel at end of hike in Menton, walking tour of old town, tasting local bakeries, & shopping at Marché aux Fleurs Cours Saleya.

Some pâte d’amande:


Location: 43.695480°N, 7.275080°E

Some fruits confits glacés: clémentine & abricot:


Location: 43.695728°N, 7.274437°E

Private bus drove us four hours north to Larche to start the hike on Monday.

Pas de la Cavale

Breakfast at 7:00 was typical French variety not intended for hikers: white bread, butter, & jam.

This was expected to be a long day with book time of 7h:00m, not including rest, eat, or swim time. Group was ready for hike at 7:51.

Trail started with a gentle climb that got steeper later, especially as we got closer to pas de la Cavales at 2,671m.

But shortly before that, we got a chance to swim in clear frigid water of Lake Lauzanier:

Extended lunch break was at the pas, before steep descent & another climb to to col des Fourches at 2,261m. Old military fortifications were there, closed. Descent was short to our final destination of the day.

Gîte communal de Bousieyas made a pleasant stay with good food, decorated tables, friendly hosts, smiles, & home-made jam. They also arranged with their friend Valerie to serve us lunch in St-Dalmas-le-Selvage.

Col de la Colombière

Leaving the gîte, we had a mellow climb of 350m to reach col de la Colombière at 2,237m:

Which strangely has identical name to the col I passed the previous week on bicycle.

In the valley was small village of St-Dalmas-le-Selvage. We stopped at Saveurs de Montagne restaurant for extended lunch: looking at the mountains, near drinking water fountains, decorated tables, & friendly hostess Valerie. Lunch was salad: mixed greens, tomato, thinly sliced mozzarella, & olives.

After the second col d’Anelle at 1,739m, we had a long descent to St-Étienne-de-Tinée: few services in town, small market, & pond for swimming.

Col du Blainon

A relaxed day to prepare for two long ones without services.

Breakfast at Gîte le Coroborant was basic, even by low French standards. Instead, I walked to town bakery for quiche & coffee éclair.

We walked out of town for steep climb to Auron. We planned for extended stop of 2:30 hours: lunch, bakery, & grocery shopping for next day. Local Casino store had Ovomaltine selections: sports bars & chocolate powder. I loaded my small pack to maximum.

Continued climb to col du Blainon at 2,014m where views opened up for the rest of the day:


Location: 44.201783°N, 6.939930°E

We could see big mountains & valleys. Wild flowers were still in bloom even this late in the season.


Location: 44.1938°N, 6.9285°E

Gîte Roya was flying a flag of St-Étienne-de-Tinée: two white crosses on red background:

Col de Crousette

We got lucky today: rain & thunderstorms were in the forecast. Yet, we escaped by mere minutes.

Soon after we arrived Refuge de Longon, heavy rain started with hail at times. Later, we could see snow on the far mountains where we had been.

Chicken, donkey, dogs, & cat were roaming around the refuge.

We all huddled around the fire to exchange stories & plan for the next day.

Dinner was a delightful feast. It started with socca niçoise for appetizer: baked batter of garbanzo bean flower with simple toping:

Then came vegetable soup with quinoa, local variation of mac & cheese, side of dried meat, & cheese platter.

We thought for sure that was it. As we left the table, the hostess directed us back to the table for dessert: white cheese (similar to yogurt) & blueberry jam.

After a big hike day & heavy dinner, we were ready to rest ahead of another big day tomorrow.

Tarte aux Blettes

No cols today.

Breakfast at Refuge de Longon was good with extra selection of cereals, jam, whole wheat bread, & Ovomaltine chocolate powder.

On the long descent to Saint-Sauveur-sur-Tinée, I resisted eating any snacks waiting for the bakery in town. I had been here just the week before on bicycle trip:

This time, I wanted to try tarte aux blettes & tarte aux amandes.

We spent 90 minutes resting in town square then started the climb to Rimplas. During the final climb to La Bolline, we heard thunder. So we hurried the pace. Luckily, we arrived before any rain or further risk of thunderstorm.

GR52

In preparation for Blue Mountain trail running race in Missoula, MT, on 1 October 2017, I went out for a training run.

We had arrived Saint-Dalmas mid morning. We were to spend the next five days in Parc National du Mercantour, going from one refuge to the next, without any services in between. Priority was food shopping for the next five days: lunch for next day & snacks for the remaining ones. Dinner & breakfast would be served at the lodging facilities. They would also pack lunch for us. We needed snacks between meals.

Rain was in the forecast starting at 14:00. My run started at 12:02 from town over col Saint-Martin down to Saint-Martin-Vésubie for a quick bakery stop to enjoy tart abricot-pistache, back up the col, & quick descent to town in the cold rain:

Back in town, I walked in the old part under arches & stone buildings:

Le Mercantour

Disappeared in Parc national du Mercantour for the next five days. There were no services, towns, or shops along the way, except for overnight refuges.

Views were grand & good sign of what to come: big mountains, wide valleys, & quiet wilderness.

Lakes on the route today were not appealing for a dip. Mostly because of cold wind. Water was not clear either.

Alpi Marittime

Immediately started climbing out of Gîte du Boréon. Views started to open up shortly after.

Arrived Lac de Trécoplas where some people were sunbathing & other fishing. Water was tempting for a dip. But not yet.

The climb became very steep to col des Ladres at 2,448m. Chamois was resting on the side of a rock.

A short walk from there, we arrived the Franco-Italian border. On the French side, it was col de Fenestre in Parc national du Mercantour. On the Italian side, it was colle di Finestra in Parco Naturale Alpi Marittime:

Below was time for a dip in frigid lac de Fenestre: tired legs recovered.

Descended more to Refuge de la Madone. While waiting for dinner, walked 300m to nearby Vacherie de la Madone for cheese snack.

Refuge de Nice

Short hike today on difficult rocky trail resembling those in the White Mountains of New Hampshire & some on Haute Route.

The climb reached pas du Mont Colomb at 2,548m, a narrow notch with just enough space for us to sit & eat lunch pique nique:

Descent was just as steep & rocky, leveling off near the dam for an easy walk to Refuge de Nice, overlooking lac de la Fous. Several chamois appeared that afternoon on the mountain, hopping rapidly across the rocks.

I was hungry for an omelet & tarte myrtille:

We sorted through cards to play a few games before dinner.

Bouquetin

Continued in remote sections of the park on rocky terrain with difficult climb to Baisse du Basto, the highest point on this trip & GR52 at 2,693m.

We came very close to a bouquetin feeding on Alpine lichens:

The climb became even steeper with much loose rock. Out of caution, we kept distance between each hiker. Sure enough, a big rock started rolling towards us & other hikers.

We yelled “ROCK” as loud as we can. By fraction of a second, everyone reacted to avoid it. Shaken, we took an extended break at the col.

Lunch was at the next Baisse de Valmosque looking down at Val des Marveilles. In the valley, the trail passed a few petroglyphs. Some were replicas. The originals dated 5,000 years. Those not on the trail require a guide. Tours left Refuge des Marveilles daily at 8:00 & 13:00.

L’Authion

Steady gusty wind faced us all day from start at Refuge des Marveilles. It only got stronger pushing us off the trail as we crossed ridges & cols. After a steady climb, we reached pas du Diable at 2,430m with a view of the Mediterranean sea in the distance.

We continued to baisse Cavaline (2,107m), col de Raus (1,999m), & baisse de St-Véron (1,836m). At L’Authion we found shelter among old military ruins for lunch break:

It was an easy descent to Relaid de Camp d’Argent.

Flan

Clouds gave special colors & formations all day. Sun peaked through in the distance showing bright spots. Others kept calm green & gray colors.

We got a beautiful view of the Mediterranean & Nice from top of Mangiabo:

The only peak we climbed on this trip. On all other sections, we stayed between peaks, hiking through cols.

A long descent of 1,500m put us in Sospel for a visit to church, old streets, & wonderful bakieres for a slice of flan.

Mediterranean

Final day on the trip was one of the hardest.

We had already descended 2,000m the day before to Sospel, close to sea level at 350m. To finish at sea, we had to ascend 1,100m & descend 1,450m.

Most of the day was close to the Italian border. During lunch break, I took a quick side trip to Cima Longoira peak in the clouds at the border:


Location: 43.815237°N, 7.51461°E

Abundance of wild berries were on the trail:


Location: 43.823730°N, 7.506325°E

After two years of work, we were ready for the plunge into the Mediterranean sea.

Our rooms had direct view of the water. We quickly changed into swimming clothes for a soack in the cool salty water:

Tuscany

Late on Saturday 16 September 2017, I boarded a private sleeping compartment on Russian РЖД train to Italy:

The train was prompt, clean, & comfortable. I had no trouble sleeping for the entire trip. My only concern was sleeping through my destination. At another time, I would welcome an opportunity to visit Moscow. This was not the time. I had an AMC trip to lead in Tuscany.

Before that though, I grew suspect of this train every time I tried to book the ticket. First, while still in the US, I for two hours on the web site & the phone with Euro Rail, but they would not book a ticket. Web booking on SNCF web site returned an error. The agent in Annemasse, France, fumbled through the system without success. Finally, in Menton, where the train stopped, the agent called for help from the manager.

Itinerary

Day Places Log
Friday 1 September 2017–Saturday
  • Lodging: Villa Saint Exupéry
  • Fruit, vegetables, & snacks: Marché aux Fleurs Cours Saleya
  • Sunday Room & board: Auberge de Lauzanier
    Monday 4 September 2017 7:51
  • Pas de la Cavales: 2,671m
  • Col des Fourches: 2,261m
  • Room & board: Gîte communal de Bousieyas
  • Log data as recorded by Garmin Fēnix 5.

    Map from Garmin & Strava: download GPX, FIT, TCX, KML, & other file format for GPS track.

    Earth view of route.

    ➡️ Distance 21.88km
    ⏩ Pace 22:10min/km
    🔄 Duration 8h:04m:54s
    ⬆️ Ascent 1,271m
    ⬇️ Descent 1,102m
    *️⃣ Calories 1,055
    📶 Temperature 16.7ºC

    Tuesday 7:59
  • Col de la Colombiére: 2,237m
  • Col d’Anelle: 1,739m
  • Room & board: Gîte le Corborant
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 19.82km
    ⏩ 22:05min/km
    🔄 7:17:32
    ⬆️ 676m
    ⬇️ 1,382m
    *️⃣ 1,146
    📶 21.2ºC
    Wednesday 8:38
  • Col du Blainon: 2,014m
  • Auron: market, bakery, & lodging
  • Room & board: Gîte Roya
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 15.98km
    ⏩ 29:11min/km
    🔄 7:46:39
    ⬆️ 1,030m
    ⬇️ 656m
    *️⃣ 740
    📶 19.0ºC
    Thursday 7:45
  • Col de Cousette: 2,480m
  • Col des Moulines: 1,981m
  • Room & board: Refuge de Longon
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 21.80km
    ⏩ 21:59min/km
    🔄 7:59:17
    ⬆️ 1,374m
    ⬇️ 999m
    *️⃣ 733
    📶 28.0ºC
    Friday 7:28 Room & board: Hôtel de Valdeblore Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 24.40km
    ⏩ 20:58min/km
    🔄 8:31:14
    ⬆️ 810m
    ⬇️ 1,652m
    *️⃣ 1,254
    📶 19.9ºC
    Saturday 9:46 Room & board: Gîte les Marmottes Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 3.59km
    ⏩ 16:02min/km
    🔄 57:37
    ⬆️ 277m
    ⬇️ 2m
    *️⃣ 194
    📶 16.7ºC
    Sunday 7:31
  • Col de Veillos: 2,194m
  • Col du Barn: 2,452m
  • Col de Salèse: 2,031m
  • Room & board: Gîte du Boréon
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 23.18km
    ⏩ 21:17min/km
    🔄 8:13:37
    ⬆️ 1,438m
    ⬇️ 1,230m
    *️⃣ 1,537
    📶 9.5ºC
    Monday 11 September 2017 9:01
  • Pas des Ladres: 2,448m
  • Col de Fenestre: 2,474m
  • Room & board: Chalet de la Madone de Fenestre
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 14.94km
    ⏩ 26:25min/km
    🔄 6:34:35
    ⬆️ 1,259m
    ⬇️ 879m
    *️⃣ 1,184
    📶 16.8ºC
    Tuesday 8:32
  • Pas du Mt Colomb: 2,548m
  • Room & board: Refuge de Nice
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 9.77km
    ⏩ 34:05min/km
    🔄 5:33:05
    ⬆️ 749m
    ⬇️ 469m
    *️⃣ 411
    📶 9.4ºC
    Wednesday 8:30
  • Baisse du Basto: 2,693m
  • Baisse de Valmasque: 2,549m
  • Room & board: Refuge de Merveilles
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 12.82km
    ⏩ 31:34min/km
    🔄 6:44:42
    ⬆️ 700m
    ⬇️ 817m
    *️⃣ 350
    📶 14.7ºC
    Thursday 8:14
  • Pas du Diable: 2,430m
  • Baisse Cavaline: 2,107m
  • Col de Raus: 1,999m
  • Baise de St-Véran: 1,846m
  • Room & board: Relais de Camp d’Argent
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 14.60km
    ⏩ 24:33min/km
    🔄 5:58:10
    ⬆️ 820m
    ⬇️ 1,171m
    *️⃣ 917
    📶 15.3ºC
    Friday 8:17
  • Baisse de la Déa: 1,750m
  • Baisse de la Linière: 1,342m
  • Baisse de Figuièra: 750m
  • Room & board: Auberge Provençale
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 28.02km
    ⏩ 18:11min/km
    🔄 8:29:23
    ⬆️ 576m
    ⬇️ 1,891m
    *️⃣ 1,625
    📶 14.3ºC
    Saturday 16 September 2017 8:20
  • Col de Razet: 1,032m
  • Colla Bassa: 1,107m
  • Room & board: Royal Westminster
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 21.33km
    ⏩ 21:39min/km
    🔄 7:41:37
    ⬆️ 1,205m
    ⬇️ 1,597m
    *️⃣ 1,617
    📶 15.3ºC
    Total ➡️ 232.10km
    ⏩ 23:14min/km
    🔄 3d:17h:52m:22s
    ⬆️ 12,182m
    ⬇️ 13,847m
    *️⃣ 12,763
    📶 16.9ºC

    Packing List

    • Backpack: Osprey Kestrel 28. The pack is versatile, light, & comfortable. Enough pockets to organize gear, attachments to hang laundry, loops to hold poles, straps to adjust fit, & capacity to hold gear for two weeks. I had extra space to carry several Ovomaltine chocolate bars & chocolate powder.
    • Toiletry bag
      • Clothes pin (4): hang washed clothes
      • USB battery charger for AA & AAA (Goal Zero Guide 10): charge headlight & tooth cleaner batteries
      • USB battery, 13,000mAh (Brookstone): charge phone & GPS watches for several days between huts. Decided against solar charger for this trip to avoid extra expense & reduce risk of running out of power
      • USB power charger with four ports
      • Lip balm
      • Tooth floss, brush, & paste
      • Electric water floss to clean between dental braces
      • Pen
      • Liquid soap (Sea to Summit)
      • Band-aid
      • Nail clipper: especially for toe nails
      • Tweezers
      • Short straps (Outdoor Research): attach to backpack
      • Electricity power plug adapter
      • USB cables (5) for Fēnix 5 watch, Suunto Spartan watch, iPhone, micro USB, & mini USB
      • CR2032 batteries (2): spare for heart rate monitor strap & temperature sensor
      • Headphones: listen to music & podcasts on phone
    • Backpack pockets:
    • Waistpack (Arc’teryx Maka 2)
      • iPhone 6s
      • Note pad & pencil: write notes about the trip & GPS measurements log
      • Pen
      • Passport
      • Cash (€ & US$)
      • Identification card
      • Global Entry card
      • Band-aid
      • Credit & debit cards
    • Me:
      • GPS watches (Garmin Fēnix 5 & Suunto Spartan)
      • Heart rate monitor strap (Wahoo KICKR): broadcast in both ANT+ & Bluetooth to work with multiple devices
      • Sun hat (Outdoor Research Sombriolet). Wide rim to protect from the sun and waterproof with ventilation to protect from the rain
      • Poles (MSR Denali III)
      • Sunglasses (Julbo Aero Zebra)
      • Trail running shoes (Salomon): comfortable, light, cool, soft, mesh top to keep feet dry: I did not get to test them in the rain. I would have used the waterproof socks
    • Missed: some items that I want to remember for the next trip
      • Spork (Snow Peak)
      • Long underwear wool pants for cool evenings
      • Thin wool gloves
      • Heart rate belt gel: improve pulse measurement
      • Playing cards with some digital copy of game guide for evenings with group

    Variations

    We created this trip over two years from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean. However, this second part alone is worth repeating as is.

    There are two other options to consider for a tour in this area:

    1. Start in Nice, heading north on the GR5, continue to GR52 from St Dalmas (identical itinerary to our trip), continue to Menton, take the cliff walk from Menton to Nice for a full loop.
    2. Consider the Grand Traverse of Mercantour national park. That is very similar to our itinerary, but does not always follow the GR5.

    Grandes Alpes

    Trip Report: 24 August–1 September 2017

    During a hike last year of the GR5 trail from Genève to Nice, I learned that the original came from a bicycle route: Grandes Alpes.

    The GR5 hike in 2016 was only half way through the GR5, to be completed in 2017. So it was set to arrive a week early before part II of the hike, bicycle the route, meet the group in Nice, & continue the hike.

    I would have hiked & bicycled the route des Grandes Alpes.

    Cols

    List of 17 cols passed on this trip in 7 days:

    Day Name Elevation [m]
    Friday 25 August 2017 Col des Gets 1,172
    Col de la Colombière 1,613
    Col des Aravis 1,487
    Saturday Col des Saisies 1,650
    Cormet de Roselend 1,968
    Sunday Col de l’Iseran 2,770
    Col de la Madeleine 1,746
    Col du Télégraph 1,566
    Monday Col du Galibier 2,642
    Col d’Izoard 2,360
    Tuesday Col de Vars 2,109
    Col de la Cayolle 2,326
    Wednesday Col de Valberg 1,672
    Col de la Couillole 1,678
    Col Saint-Martin 1,500
    Thursday 31 August 2017 Col de Turini 1,607
    Col de Castillon 706

    Lac Léman

    It was a comfortable flight from Boston to Genève by way of Zürich, arriving on time at 7:45 on Thursday 24 August 2017.

    Weather forecast was looking clear:

    I had plenty of time that day to transfer to Thonon, pack for trip, shop for food, assemble bicycle, & mail extra luggage to Nice.

    Then suddenly I did not have much time. In Genève, my luggage did not arrive. Assuming it did not make the connection in Zürich, I waited for the next plan. And the next plane. And the next one until 12:00. When the luggage still did not arrive, I decided to get some rest in hotel, nap, confirm post office location & hours, & prepare for quick transfer when the luggage does arrive.

    The luggage did finally arrive at 16:00, with just enough time to transfer content, mail bag before post office closed at 18:00, shop for food, & pump bicycle tires before shop closed at 19:00. All was ready for the tour.

    Gets-Colombière-Aravis

    Getting out of town, immediately there was a sign that bicycles were not allowed on that section of D902 road. No choice except to continue. There was probably another route to take, more scenic, with less traffic. But not the time to explore.

    A little while later, I started seeing other bicycles on the road. Route was better. Saw the first sign for Route des Grandes Alpes. Climbing started to the first col des Gets at 1,172m.


    Location: 46.160331°N, 6.669045°E

    Signs of Tour de France came next on climb to col de la Colombière with road markers & racer names on the road.

    Col de la Colombière at 1,613m:


    Location: 45.992103°N, 6.475447°E

    After a long descent, I started the third climb to col des Aravis at 1,487m:


    Location: 45.872320°N, 6.464942°E

    As if all this climbing of the first day was not enough, I had one last steep climb to my room at Hotel la Molliniere.

    Saisies-Roseland

    Climb started immediately. Two bicyclists passed me at reasonable speed. Still feeling fresh early in the day, I increased my pace to keep up with them. We stayed together to col des Saisies at 1,650m:


    Location: 45.761608°N, 6.533280°E

    Big mistake. I was exhausted already while I still had Cormet de Roseland. Stopped at Lac de Roselend to rest:


    Location: 45.694997°N, 6.634992°E

    Cormet de Roseland at 1,968:

    Luckily, Tour L’Avenir bicycle race was on the same course. I was forced to evacuate the road for an extended rest ahead of the big climb.

    Nightmare of the day came on climb to Val d’Isère. Being a weekend in vacation month of August, swarms of motorcycles were passing me. No rules of the road seemed to apply to them about speed, lanes, or safe passing of other vehicles. Pollution from noise & fumes was noxious at best. I was certain to tumble off the side of the mountain any moment.

    A series of long tunnels close to town did not help my anxiety either:

    Drivers seemed aware of bicycles on this popular road. They gave me plenty of space. Front & rear flashing lights on the bicycle helped keep it visible.

    Iseran-Madeleine-Télégraph

    Breakfast buffet was generous at Les 5 Fréres: yogurt, apricot jam, egg, cheese, meat, meüsli, milk, & bread.

    I needed that energy to climb 13km to the highest col in France.

    I took the long steep descent to Bonneval-sur-Arc: a small town with narrow streets, farmers market, bakery, goat cheese shop, old church, & war memorial.

    From there, it was a very long, mostly boring, gradual descent through the valley, without much scenery, passing by col de la Madeleine at 1,746m:


    Location: 45.3°N, 6.9491°E

    On Sunday, almost every service was closed except for a small restaurant in Saint-Michele-de-Maurienne for water & juice.

    Traffic nightmare continued on the climb to col du Télégraph at 1,566m:


    Location: 45.2027°N, 6.4446°E

    More than motorcycles, all terrain 4×4 vehicles joined the swarm for a car show in Valloire.

    Galibier-Izoard

    Suddenly traffic vanished & the trip redeemed. Maybe because it was Monday & the crowd returned to work. Maybe because the villages were smaller without big resorts & do not attract big crowd. Or maybe it was the end of vacation season.

    Time to Live Slow Ride Fast:


    Location: 45.089928°N, 6.431037°E

    That was just in time for spectacular scenery for remainder of the trip: big mountains, wide valleys, steep gorges, & soaring roads to col du Galibier at 2,642m:

    And col d’Izoard at 2,360m:


    Location: 44.8196°N, 6.7352°E

    Earlier, I had met Tony & Brian from MIT Cycling Team. We continued together whenever I was able to keep up.

    Refuge d’Izoard was more than just shelter from thunderstorm. There was a large display of pastries. It was hard to decide, so I tried three pieces: blueberry tart, pear tart, & lemon pudding:


    Location: 44.8229°N, 6.7333°E

    Descent was through Gorges du Guil:


    Location: 44.724116°N, 6.76256°E

    On a road carved in stone:


    Location: 44.675259°N, 6.690043°E

    The route had several trash cans with backboards for bicycles on the move:


    Location: 45.1037°N, 6.4276°E

    Vars-Cayolle

    Today was exceptional: away from crowds & ski towns.

    Climb to col de Vars at 2,109m:


    Location: 44.548°N, 6.7028°E

    The route entered Parc national du Mercantour on small narrow roads, carved in stone as a ledge on side of high cliffs:


    Location: 44.320358°N, 6.619458°E

    Big mountains were in view throughout even when at a col de la Cayolle at 2,326m:

    Valberg-Couillole-Saint Martin

    Bakeries started to offer local Mediterranean cuisine.

    First came col de Valburg at 1,672m. Few services & ski lifts were nearby.

    Then col de la Couillole at 1,678m:

    In Saint-Sauveur, it was the pissaladière: flat bread with cooked onion & olive on top. They also had tartelette aux blettes: sweet Swiss chard pie with raisins. I waited to try that later when on the GR5 hike.

    Finally, col Saint-Martin at 1,500m with services, shops, & ski lifts nearby:


    Location: 44.0709°N, 7.2216°E

    In Saint-Martin-Vésuvie it was abricot pistache tart with a rest stop in the square:

    It was an active town with many shops & entertainment options.

    Unfortunately, my hotel was further down the mountain in a loud town that had live music in the square until midnight. It seemed fun for residents who were dancing & drinking. It was not fun for a tired bicyclist who wanted to sleep early. Saint-Martin-Vésuvie would have been a better choice.

    Turini-Castillon

    The main thought on my mind was le grande plungeon in the Mediterranean sea.

    Sospel came after Col de Turini at 1,607m:


    Location: 43.977°N, 7.3919°E

    I stopped there two weeks later while hiking the GR5 for extended visit.

    Two bakeries were near each other. I tried savory tartelette aux blettes, pissaladière, & brioche Suisse:


    Location: 43.8778°N, 7.4483°E

    Final climb of the trip was to col de Castillon at 706m:

    No stopping after that. It was a fast descent to the beach. Parked my bicycle. Jumped into the water:

    Cote d’Azure

    Entire day on the beach.

    Soon after leaving Menton, I took a cliff walk along the rocky coast all the way to Monte Carlo, with constant views of the sea, mountains, & mansions.

    Bicycle was not allowed on cliff walk. For good reasons: barrow, busy, & plenty of stairs. Even with light load on the bicycle, I got tired after a while carrying it up & down.

    Monte Carlo was a collection of enormous yachts larger than small ships, expensive sports cars, & private mansions.

    Nice had a bicycle path along the beach. Sun was bright. Sky was blue.

    Nice was beatiful. I had arrived.

    I spent the next two days tasting local bakeries, fresh fruits, & sweets from Marché aux Fleurs Cours Saleya.

    Some pâte d’amande:


    Location: 43.695480°N, 7.275080°E

    Some fruits confits glacés: clémentine & abricot:


    Location: 43.695728°N, 7.274437°E

    Itinerary

    Day Places Log
    Thursday 24 August 2017
  • Transferred from Genève airport to city center Cornavin station, took bus 61 to Annemasse train station in France, took SNCF train to Thonon-les-Bain
  • Lodging: 30€ at Côté Chalet Résidence Hostel
  • Used local post office in Thonon-les-Bain to ship bicycle case & backpacking gear to Nice. Cheaper to send them within country than from Switzerland.
  • Friday 8:03
  • Col des Gets: 1,172m
  • Col de la Colombière: 1,613m
  • Col des Aravis: 1,487m
  • Bed & breakfast: 53€ at Hôtel Restaurant Brasserie Laverie “La Mollinière”
  • Log data as recorded by Garmin Edge 820e.

    Map from Garmin & Strava: download GPX, FIT, TCX, KML, & other file format for GPS track.

    Earth view of route.

    ➡️ Distance 119.09km
    ⏩ Speed 13.52km/h
    🔄 Duration 8h:48m:39s
    ⬆️ Ascent 2,816m
    ⬇️ Descent 2,102m
    *️⃣ Calories 4,690
    📶 Temperature 22.5ºC

    Saturday 8:46
  • Col des Saisies: 1,650m
  • Cormet de Roselend: 1,968m
  • Bed & generous breakfast: 52€ at Les 5 Frères
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view.
    ➡️ 99.2km
    ⏩ 11.1km/h
    🔄 8:56:31
    ⬆️ 2,893m
    ⬇️ 2,236m
    *️⃣ 4,418
    📶 22.7ºC
    Sunday 9:18
  • Col de l’Iseran: 2,770m
  • Col de la Madeleine: 1,746m
  • Col du Télégraph: 1,566m
  • Bed & breakfast: 79€ at Le Relais du Galibier
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 109.58km
    ⏩ 14.0km/h
    🔄 7:50:54
    ⬆️ 2,056m
    ⬇️ 2,309m
    *️⃣ 4,161
    📶 24.3ºC
    Monday 8:06
  • Col du Galibier: 2,642m
  • Col d’Izoard: 2,360m
  • Bed & breakfast: 30€ at Auberge de Jeunesse de Guillestre
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 102.72km
    ⏩ 14.6km/h
    🔄 7:03:04
    ⬆️ 2,248m
    ⬇️ 2,747m
    *️⃣ 4,250
    📶 22.1ºC
    Tuesday 8:46
  • Col de Vars: 2,109m
  • Col de la Cayolle: 2,326m
  • Bed & breakfast: 65€ at Gîte Le Pelens
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 101.64km
    ⏩ 13.1km/h
    🔄 7:44:49
    ⬆️ 2,283m
    ⬇️ 2,198m
    *️⃣ 3,989
    📶 24.2ºC
    Wednesday 9:07
  • Col de Valberg: 1,672m
  • Col de la Couillole: 1,678m
  • Col Saint-Martin: 1,500m
  • Lodging: 49€ at Hôtel des Sports
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 93.84km
    ⏩ 12.1km/h
    🔄 7:45:38
    ⬆️ 2,134m
    ⬇️ 2,534m
    *️⃣ 3,750
    📶 26.2ºC
    Thursday 8:16
  • Col de Turini: 1,607m
  • Col de Castillon: 706m
  • Lodging: $97.64 at Quality Hotel Méditerranée booked through Hotwire
  • Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 65.25km
    ⏩ 12.8km/h
    🔄 5:04:44
    ⬆️ 1,421m
    ⬇️ 2,013m
    *️⃣ 2,646
    📶 21.9ºC
    Total
    ➡️ 691.30km
    ⏩ 12.99km/h
    🔄 2d:5h:14m:19s
    ⬆️ 15,851m
    ⬇️ 16,139m
    *️⃣ 27,904
    📶 23.5ºC
    Friday 1 September 2017 8:19 Lodging: 40.25€ at Villa Saint Exupery Garmin, Strava, & earth view
    ➡️ 37.35km
    ⏩ 6.2km/h
    🔄 5:59:01
    ⬆️ 461m
    ⬇️ 443m
    *️⃣ 1,000
    📶 30.7ºC

    Packing List

    Credit card tour: I carried very little gear, slept in hotels, & bought food along the way. Whatever I needed fit into the handlebar bag.

    I washed day clothes in the evening to dry overnight. Whatever does not dry, I hung on the bicycle next day. This was often the case with chamois on bicycle shorts. I had another pair of bicycle shorts to use while the other was drying.

    Below is a list of every single items, regardless of size or weight, that I had with me, on me, & on the bicycle.

    • Bike Friday: for all roads, travels easy, & reliable. It has been with me on plenty of trips.
      • Water bottles (2)
      • Front light: Light & Motion Urban, use it in flash mode for visibility during the day
      • Wahoo Elemnt GPS: navigate & record trip data. Reliable, easy to use, & completely wireless
      • Garmin Edge 820e GPS: record data for redundancy & compare with Elemnt
      • Wahoo mount on stem
      • Garmin mount on handlebar bag extension
      • Saddle bag
      • Handlebar bag
      • Rear light: Knog Blinder with many flashing modes, stays on all day, bright light
      • Pump
      • Lock & key
    • Saddle bag: Ortlieb Micro water proof bag to keep the tools dry & avoid rust
      • Patch kit
      • Spare tube
      • Tire levers
      • Multi-tool: hex wrenches & chain breaker
    • Handlebar bag: Ortlieb Ultimate 6M+ with 7 liters capacity
      • Tooth floss
      • Tooth brush
      • Tooth paste
      • USB charger with four ports
      • Mini USB charging cable
      • Micro USB charging cable (2)
      • iPhone charging cable
      • Garmin Fēnix 5 charging cable
      • Suunto Spartan charging cable
      • USB battery: Goal Zero Flip 30 to charge phone, GPS, & lights as needed
      • Wall electric outlet adapter for France
      • Band-aid
      • Hydration tables: Hammer Nutrition Race Caps Supreme 3–5 tablets per day
      • Sun screen
      • Notebook
      • Pencil
      • Chamois cream: Assos
      • Running shorts: change into in the evening
      • Rain jacket
      • Rain pants
      • Hat
      • Shirt
      • Rain shell mittens
      • Booties rain socks
      • Bicycle shorts liner
      • CR2032 batteries (2)
      • Mounting bracket for handlebar bag
      • Front light Ortlieb extender for handlebar bag
    • Me
      • Helmet
      • Heart rate monitor strap: Wahoo Tickr to work with both ANT+ & Bluetooth devices
      • Gloves half finger
      • Bicycle shorts liner
      • Ankle cuffs for pants
      • Sun glasses
      • Mirror
      • Long thin pants: Arc’teryx Rampart to protect from sun, dry quickly from rain or sweat
      • Long sleeve sun shirt
      • Sandals: Keen waterproof with SPD cleats
      • Socks
      • Fēnix 5 watch
      • Suunto Spartan watch
      • Waist pack
    • Waist pack: Arc’teryx Maka 2, versatile, spacious, multiple pockets, easy access while moving or walking into a store.
      • iPhone
      • Headphone
      • Passport
      • Lip balm
      • Credit card
      • Cash

    Farms, Bakeries, & Nashua River Trail

    Day Trip Report: 30 July 2017

    Sun finally. It had been rainy & cold for several days. So large group of people were ready for a nice bicycle tour. Some 30 of them were at the station when I arrived on the train with a few others.

    I took Fitchburg line of MBTA Commuter Rail, leaving Concord at 9:15 arriving Ayer at 9:38. It was on time.

    After a brief safety talk with the group, we split into different paces, & got on the trail for a short distance to Groton. We stopped to supply food for picnic at the park two hours later. First choice was Bliss Bakery:


    Location: 42.606868°N, 71.569171°W

    There is also a Natural Market & Salt & Light Café.

    West of Groton, routes 225 & 2A were somewhat busy with cars for about 12km, but had wide shoulders. Then we switched to small quiet roads for the remainder of the tour.

    A couple on a tandem with toddler in tow started with us at the train station, with intent of round trip to Pearl Hill pond. By the time I arrived, they were already there & their son already playing in the water.

    Of course I also jumped in:


    Location: 42.656901°N, 71.758013°W

    We rested & ate snacks at the picnic table. There was also a water fountain to fill bottles.

    Very few stops were available until Hollis, unless we needed a break from rolling hills.

    On the other side of town was Lull Farm:


    Location: 42.743928°N, 71.577950°W

    Local peach, watermelon, yogurt, & milk were available:

    Large section for bread & pastries:

    Soon after the farm, we entered the Nashua River Trail from its northern terminus all the way to the southern terminus in Ayer.

    A few short sections on the trail were rough from undergrowth of tree roots. Otherwise, very pleasant, in the shade, & many benches to rest on.

    Shops in Groton were closed by 15:30 on Sunday afternoon. Instead, we continued to Ayer train station & waited for the train at 16:05.

    Notes

    • Map from Garmin & Strava: download GPX, FIT, TCX, KML, & other file format for GPS track.
      • Distance ➡️ 92.26km
      • Speed ⏩ 15.6km/h
      • Duration 🔄 5h:55m:22s
      • Ascent ⬆️ 692m
      • Descent ⬇️ 696m
      • Calories *️⃣ 2,545
      • Temperature 📶 23.3ºC
    • Feature:
    • Variations
      • Shorter loop: continue on train to Fitchburg station, navigate to meet the route near Pearl Hill State Park, continue on the same route to return by train from Ayer.
      • Easy trail ride: stay on Nashua River Trail for the entire day. Start in Ayer, stop in Groton to supply with food, continue on the trail all the way to northern terminus, & then turn back. Total should be about 40km with little elevation gain.

    Boston–Providence

    Day Trip Report: 16 July 2017

    I had recently learned about many bakery options in Providence, so I had to make a visit. In fact, I created several itineraries that include bakery visit in Providence. This was the first one I explored.

    The route started from Charles/MGH subway station along Charles River:


    Location: 42.359241°N, 71.073125°W

    I was not sure how riding will be through busy city streets, between cars, & with little scenery. It turned out that Beacon street offered bicycle lanes & wide shoulders on long stretches:


    Location: 42.339776°N, 71.132124°W

    The scenery was pleasant to explore unique neighborhoods of Boston College, Newton, & Wellesley:


    Location: 42.330222°N, 71.194672°W

    Many of them reminded me of the route I ran just a few months earlier for Boston Marathon.

    Eighty minutes later, I arrived The Common Café & Bakery just in time for rest & snack. Options included stacks of pancakes, fresh parfait, & thick French toast:


    Location: 42.283253°N, 71.347380°W

    I sat for a few minutes across the street in Natick Green before proceeding south onto some suburban & rural quiet roads. They were narrow, well paved, twisty, & fun to be on bicycle.


    Location: 42.172255°N, 71.317437°W

    In Dover Market, while not ready yet for another snack, Avelines hazelnut Swiss chocolate did not count. I had to try one:


    Location: 42.244850°N, 71.282067°W

    Deli, cheese shop, & other Swiss chocolates were available.

    Popular bicycle destination was Blue Moon Bagel Café & bakery:


    Location: 42.194050°N, 71.288680°W

    I carried asiago & jalapeño bagels with me for the road to eat later in Franklin Green: rest, snack, & nap in gazebo:


    Location: 42.089231°N, 71.401650°W

    Along the way, I found the gift shop for Trappistine chocolate, made with love & prayers by Sisters of Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey:


    Location: 42.040658°N, 71.394180°W

    The shop was closed on Sunday. However, through a small visitor center, there was a limited selection of chocolate boxes for purchase.

    The route was about to get even better closer to Providence on the paved Blackstone River trail:


    Location: 41.912450°N, 71.408630°W

    The trail ends before arriving Providence, but there were plenty of signs to navigate through side streets. I made my way to Seven Stars bakery:

    Selection was large. Bread choice was heard. But of course I got olive bread:


    Location: 41.849555°N, 71.394880°W

    Knead & PV donut shops were closed by then. I will have to visit them another time.

    I got on the train at 16:56 to arrive Boston at 18:07.

    Notes

    • Route map & log from Garmin & Strava: download GPX, FIT, TCX, KML, & other file format for GPS track
      • Distance ➡️ 111.16km
      • Speed ⏩ 15.3km/h
      • Duration 🔄 7h:15m:54s
      • Ascent ⬆️ 807m
      • Descent ⬇️ 806m
      • Calories *️⃣ 3,315
      • Temperature 📶 27.2ºC
    • Food:
    • Places:
    • Variations:
      • Start from Natick train station. Take Framingham/Worcester train from Boston at 8:40 to arrive at 9:20. Get breakfast at Bakery at the Common. Continue route as is, less 28km.
      • Try the route in reverse! Take train in the morning from Boston to Providence & bicycle back to Boston along the same route.

    Cape Cod Rail Trail

    Trip report 23–25 June 2017

    Family-friendly bicycle tour of Cape Cod: bicycle path, farmers’ market, salt water taffy, ice cream, bakeries, lighthouses, & many beaches to play at.

    We met on Friday evening in Eastham hostel, set in a wooded area with common space, eating area, open play space, & small cabins. We spent the weekend visiting many attractions along the Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT) going out to Orleans farmers’ market, Nickerson State Park, Coast Guard beach, Nauset lighthouse, PB Boulangerie bakery, Flax pond, & much more.

    The route was mostly flat, with many services & food stops along the way to purchase meals & snacks.

    Friday: Rock Harbor Beach

    We arrived Friday afternoon to find our cabin, meet the group, & explore the area.

    There was plenty of space for the kids to play frisbee, hang the hammocks, & chase each other.

    Later we took a short bicycle ride to Rock Harbor beach.

    Initially, we wanted to get dinner from the seafood shack near Rock Harbor beach. But they were running out of supplies when we arrived minutes before closing at 18:00. Instead, we spent time on the beach chasing crabs & getting feet wet:


    Location: 41.800087°N, 70.008461°W

    We traced our route back toward Orleans for dinner at Guapo’s Tortilla Shack.

    Our group had a mix of 8-bed & 4-bed cabins: bunk beds, limited electricity outlets to charge devices, outdoor showers. The main building had indoor showers, restrooms, kitchen, dining area, & wireless internet.

    Saturday: Nickerson State Park

    Weather forecast was for heavy rain in late morning. We opted to proceed with our bicycle plan regardless.

    But first we had a healthy breakfast of cereal, juice, fruit, & blueberry pancakes.

    The hostel is a short distance away from CCRT. Within 15 minutes, we arrived Orleans to shop for bread at farmers’ market & bagels at Jo Mama’s.


    Location: 41.787172°N, 69.994133°W

    Then we proceeded to Nickerson State Park to find shelter from the expected rain. Once there, the group decided to continue on bicycle, rain or shine.

    One group decided to take the park roller coaster trail with many quick hills & some dirt tracks:


    Location: 41.77327°N, 70.02903°W

    Another group continue on the main CCRT.

    This was when the rain started coming down. Heavily. We got soaked. No matter. We had a blast on the park trail, with the thrill of steep short hills followed by quick descents. The dirt trail was plenty fun, difficult at times, just what the kids asked for!

    In the afternoon, the sun came out warm & bright to dry all the wet gear we had:


    Location: 41.802355°N, 69.990451°W

    Back at the hostel, we had a choice of indoor or outdoor shower before hearty dinner that we ordered from The Corner Store:


    Location: 41.786767°N, 69.990020°W

    They offered whoopie pies in triple chocolate, peanut butter, red velvet, strawberry, coconut, & classic.

    No. Whoopie pies were not our dinner! We ordered burritos & salads.

    Sunday: Coast Guard Beach

    We had an amazing plan to visit the best bakery & the best beach on Cape Cod.

    We started for a short distance on the CCRT before turning right to join Nauset trail for a winding ride through forest & marsh area:


    Location: 41.843761°N, 69.950867°W

    The trail ended at Coast Guard beach. There were changing rooms, restrooms, showers, & endless sand for the kids to play on.

    We had an extended stop there resting & body surfing on the waves. Then everyone was ready for lunch.

    We returned to CCRT by way of Nauset lighthouse & The Three Sisters:


    Location: 41.858847°N, 69.957283°W

    We continued to the northern terminus of the trail to visit PB Boulangerie for chocolate almond croissant, bread, & soup:


    Location: 41.916820°N, 69.989288°W

    Itinerary

    Day Service Log
    Friday 23 June 2017 Eastham hostel: stayed here for the weekend, both nights.
    Dinner at Guapo’s Tortilla Shack
    Saturday 9:06
  • Orleans Farmer’s Market
  • Corner Store
  • Jo Mama’s
  • Map: Strava & Garmin: download GPX route data
  • Distance ➡️ 32.73km
  • Speed ⏩ 6.2km/h
  • Duration 🔄 5h:16m:55s
  • Ascent ⬆️ 154m
  • Temperature 📶 19.6ºC
  • Sunday 9:30 PB Boulangeire

  • Map: Strava & Garmin
  • ➡️ 34.48km
  • ⏩ 6.2km/h
  • 🔄 5h:34m:12s
  • ⬆️ 139m
  • 📶 27.2ºC
  • Packing List

    Games

    Small portable games to share: rackets, frisbee, cards, ball, puzzles, kite, Sequence, Sorry, SET, & others.

    Swimming

    Extra towels, sun screen, goggles, & change of clothes.

    Bicycle

    Bicycle Bag

    The most comfortable option for carrying gear, clothes, & food is inside panniers mounted on a bicycle rack. These relieve back pain & keep better balance.

    Otherwise, small backpack with such gear, ideally with a waist strap to keep it steady.

    Beds

    A bunk with mattress, sheets, pillow, pillow case, & blankets are provided. Cabins are not heated. Bring extra sweater, jacket, or sleeping sack. Personal linens & sleeping bags are not permitted.

    Bathrooms are outside the cabins, in the main building. Bring headlight to walk out at night.

    Clothes

    • Rain gear
    • Casual clothing, vest, jacket, sweater
    • Warm clothing
    • Lunch food, snacks, & money to purchase
    • Navigation tools: GPS device & phone with navigation apps

    Accessories

    The following is a long list of items to bring. Use it as a reminder of additional items that can make your trip and rides more comfortable.

    • Bicycle Clothing
      • Vest
      • Socks
      • Gloves
      • Sunglasses
    • Bicycle Gear
    • Casual Clothing
      • Shoes, sandals, or flip flops
      • Slacks
      • T-shirt
      • Long-sleeve shirt
      • Jacket
      • Swim suite, goggles, & towel
    • Accessories
      • Toothbrush
      • Lip balm
      • Toothpaste
      • Razor
      • Shaving cream
      • Contact lens solution & case
      • Glasses
      • Flashlight or head lamp
      • Mobile phone & charger
      • Deodorant
      • Comb (or light hat for the evening)
      • Sunscreen
      • Camera & battery charger
      • GPS, power charger, bicycle mount

    Communication

    WiFi was available at the hostel.

    Mobile phone reception was available throughout the entire trip.

    Phone Navigation

    Used MAPS.ME app for phone navigation. Prepare these steps ahead of the trip when you have internet connection.

    • Install MAPS.ME app on your iPhone or Android phone.
    • Open the app
    • Open menu options from the three horizontal bars at the bottom right corner
    • Select Download Maps
    • In the subsequent menus, navigate to find the country & region to download maps for
    • Download map for United Stats of America: Massachusetts: Barnstable

    Social Network

    We used Rudel app to share location of other participants on the trip.

    Share your location anonymously in real time. No login, email, or phone number required.

    The battery drains quickly when using this app. Watch it closely, use it when needed, & carry extra battery with you.

    Variations

    This is one of several trips we have made to Cape Cod, with different ideas, itineraries, destinations, & duration.